Real estate agents join doctors, dentists, attorneys, accountants, and financial planners in the ranks of licensed professionals that provide guidance and counsel to clients. The big difference is that most real estate agents don’t view themselves as top-level professionals. Many agents, and a good portion of the public, perceive themselves as real estate tour guides, as home inventory access providers, or even as just necessary cogs in the wheel of the property sale transaction. The best agents, however, know and act differently.
Real estate agents are fiduciary representatives and financial advisors — not people paid to unlock front doors of houses for prospective buyers. A fiduciary is someone who is hired to represent the interests of another. A
fiduciary owes another person a special relationship of honesty, commitment, exclusivity in representation, ethical treatment, and protection. Build your real estate business with a strong belief in the service and benefits you
provide your clients, and you’ll provide a vital professional service while being recognized as the valuable professional you are.
Serving as a fiduciary representative
Real estate agents represent the interests of their clients. As an agent, you’re bound by honor, ethics, and duty to work on your client’s behalf to achieve the defined and desired results. This involves the following functions:
Defining the client’s objective. To serve as a good fiduciary representative, you need to start with a clear understanding of the objectives your client is aiming to achieve through the sale or purchase of property. Too
many agents get into trouble by starting out with uncertainty about the interests of the people they’re representing. To avoid this pitfall.
Delivering counsel. In the same way that attorneys counsel clients on the most cost-effective way to proceed legally, it’s your job to offer similarly frank counsel so that your clients reach the real estate outcomes they seek.
An attorney may encourage a client to proceed with a lawsuit when the client has a high probability of winning, or she may recommend an outof-court settlement when odds point toward a court loss that could leave the client with nothing but legal bills to pay. Likewise, you need to be able to steer your clients toward good decisions regarding the value of their homes, the pricing strategies they adopt, the marketing approaches they follow, and the way their contract is negotiated in order to maximize their financial advantage. The chapters in Part III of
this book help you develop the knowledge you need in these areas.
Diagnosing problems and offering solutions. A good agent, like a good doctor, spends a great deal of time examining situations, determining problems, and prescribing solutions. In an agent’s case, the focus is on
the condition and health of the home a client is trying to buy or sell. The examination involves an analysis of the property’s condition, location, neighborhood, school district, street appeal, landscaping, market competitiveness, market demand, availability for showing, and value versus price. The diagnosis involves an unvarnished analysis of what a home is worth and what changes or corrections are necessary.
Some say that agents should present all of the options available to their clients and then should recommend the course of action that they feel is best. By doing this, agents allow their clients to make the final decision.
While many experts praise the virtues of this approach, I prefer the diagnostic and prescriptive approach because it positions you better as the expert. When clients make poor choices such as setting the wrong price on their home or making an initial offer that is too low, you may still receive some or all of the blame even though you were merely giving them options and they chose the wrong one.
Many agents get into trouble because they lack the conviction to tell clients the truths they don’t want to hear. If a home is overpriced or not ready for showing, or if an offer is too low for seller consideration, it’s
the agent’s job to speak up with sound advice. In these situations, you could get blamed for a poor outcome. You may also run the risk of doing all this work and not getting compensated for the time you invested.
At times like these, your calm attitude, solution-oriented approach, and strong agent-client relationship will win the day. Chapter 15 is full of advice for achieving and maintaining the kind of relationship excellence that smoothes your transactions and leads to long-lasting and loyal clients.